In the last week, the Russians retreated from the suburbs of the northeast city of Kharkiv, less than 40 miles from the Russian border. In a symbolic signal of their recent battlefield successes, a small number of Ukrainian troops photographed themselves Monday on the border, having evaded Russian forces nearby.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based group, said in its latest appraisal that Russian forces had likely abandoned their goal of encircling tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas and had halted their own attempt to seize Donetsk, focusing instead on capturing Luhansk.
In what appeared to be a further setback, the institute also said Russia had likely run out of combat-ready reservists, forcing it to integrate forces from private military companies and militias with its regular army.
Western military analysts have repeatedly cautioned that Russia remains by far the bigger force, and that the war could last for months or years. Russia still controls a swath of southern Ukraine seized early in the invasion and has blockaded Black Sea ports, choking Ukraine’s economic lifelines.
But Russia’s miscalculations and growing isolation because of the war have overshadowed its gains.
Among the most visible signs of backlash against Russia were the large-scale NATO exercises in Estonia, the former Soviet republic — precisely the type of military display that the Kremlin sees as a threat. While the exercises had long been planned, their significance was elevated by the participation of Finland and Sweden and by the host of the exercises, Estonia, which shares a border with Russia.
For Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, whose parents grew up in the repressive Soviet era, Ukraine’s struggle cannot be concluded with the appeasement of Russia.
“I only see a solution as a military victory that could end this once and for all, and also punishing the aggressor for what he has done,” Ms. Kallas said in an interview with The New York Times. Otherwise, she said, “we go back to where we started.”
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